3 Big Problems with Your Managers

Accountability, Goal Setting, and Professional Development. That’s it, very simple to identify and equally important across all professions.  Having great first-level managers and supervisors are the most important positions you can have.  They have a difficult job in trying to translate the organization’s vision & mission into tangible task the employees can accomplish.  Not only that, but they must hold the line of accountability of the employees, support the values of the organization, inspire their people to achieve excellence, and develop and train their replacements. It is a daunting task, so let’s look at how to improve the big three!

Accountability is the foundation a manager operates on.  There are tons of articles and research on this topic, but the bottom line is most managers are rated poor at holding their people accountable.  Accountability starts at the top!  The only way to get better at this is to ensure you are holding people accountable.  It will trickle down from there.  Make accountability the manager and supervisor’s core responsibility.  You must evaluate them on how well they hold people accountable.  Teach them when they make mistakes and let them figure things out.

Goals.  So often we talk about goals and how important they are, yet we fail to identify them or worse, identify them but make them impossible to achieve or measure.  It is not always easy to establish goals.  Goals of perfection are a bad idea.  Do not use them.  Voltaire said, “Perfection is the enemy of good.”  I believe what he means is if you spend too much time on perfection you waste resources that could be used elsewhere to move from 99 to 99.1.  If they were utilized properly, perhaps you could improve another area from 70 to 90%.  See this article about perfection for more reasons why Perfection is Dumb.  Being good enough and not expecting perfection will drive your organization to great success.

Professional Development. The goal of this website is to provide professional development for everyone who wishes to pursue it.  In your organization, there may be little interest in professional development, but you should make it worthwhile. Outside of producing quality content that is, in itself worthwhile, the leaders of the organization need to tie rewards to attending professional development.  It cannot be mandatory but must be highly encouraged.  Tying it to performance evaluations, bonuses, and awards will give it the importance it deserves and will begin to change the culture of the organization to where it values it intrinsically.

One thing to note is that all three of these subjects must be worked on simultaneously.  Working on them independently in a vacuum will not bring about the results you are looking for.  They complement each other and feed off one another.  To maximize the effects, they must be considered a single item with three parts.

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How to Get Promoted

Everyone wants to get promoted. Even the people that say they don’t really do want it. They just may not be willing to do the work that is involved in earning the promotion. Most organizations prefer to promote within. It is a good practice to hire a person who understands and is accepting of the culture and knows the business well. In most cases, this will give you an advantage. Other times, they will want someone from the outside to provide a fresh, new perspective.

There are two critical keys to a promotion. Know what the organization values and who the gatekeepers are.

The most important aspect in getting that promotion is to figure out what the organization values. This is often not what “they” say they value. Look at what the managers and high-level leaders are talking about. What metrics do they track? What items are consistently communicated? Determining these values can be tricky, but it is important not to be fooled by cliché terms like, “work hard” and “give it your all.” Although they are important, working hard is the entry-level employee reason for promotion. Management positions require reading between the lines. Weekly emails from your manager about the training stats are a great indicator that training is important to the organization. If the monthly and quarterly award winners are the ones that innovate and drive change, then your organization probably values innovation and improvements.

Determine the gatekeepers and know what they need to give you passage. The gatekeepers are the people that can stop you from progressing. Everyone in the organization will have an opinion, but there are only a few that hold the real power to block a promotion. Your peers and others in the organization will probably have influence with the gatekeepers, but their influence is only effective if your actions leave room for doubt. Doubt about whether you are right or wrong for the promotion.

If you don’t value the same things your organization or the gatekeepers value then perhaps you aren’t in the right organization. Those things will change over time, but the big things you are passionate about should be a focus for the organization as well. In an ideal situation, the things you believe are important for promotion should also be what the organization values.

Once you identify the values another great piece of advice is to solve your boss’ problems. Don’t be a “yes man” or a “brown-noser,” but solving your boss’ problems will provide many benefits to you, most importantly, more autonomy in the future.